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October 04, 2005

Dynamic Branding, Infinite Games and Non-Attachment

Last Thursday�s session was like a walk inside a flower garden. So many different flowers, yet all of them share the characteristic of a flower. It felt as if the flowers are constantly blooming in our Thursday garden and we are the bees drinking the nectar and aiding the pollination.

I was volunteered by two others to start the check-in. Since I am going through a branding exercise at work, I have been thinking about possibility of dynamic branding. The usual branding process is to give an entity a unique persona that best expresses the essence of that entity. The entity could be a product, service, position, place, concept or a person. This leads to the creation of a Static Brand. If the entity is an unchanging thing like a product, then the usual process works well. But if the objective is to express the essence of a person, for instance, then a Static Brand identity forces that person to conform to that identity in spite of the evolution of his essence. I then remembered reading a few years ago how the creators of the cartoon character Bugs Bunny dealt with branding it. First they wanted to give it a specific persona (similar to other cartoon characters). But later they decided that by not defining who Bugs is, that is, by not superimposing a persona on bugs, Bugs is free to be anyone as long as any projection of Bugs is aligned to the essence of Bugs. So, when it comes to branding a person, may be there is a way to identify (not define or create) the essence of the person and not create a persona. And yet project the essence of that person in a way that is true to the current role of that person � a process that can be called as Dynamic Branding.

Srikanth said that in his office, they are experimenting with a new rule for playing table tennis: The loser proceeds to the next round! The opened up a variety of thoughts: under such a rule, will people deliberately play to lose? If yes, can a game be played at all? Can this rule make people not to concentrate on winning and losing but just play their game? (assuming there is no title and cash reward for �winning�). What is the point in �proceeding� to the next round if you are not enjoying playing the game?

Prasad talked about two books:

Well-Played Game by Bernie DeKoven. The book advocates that, �Games should be a way for bringing more fun to your life. Too often, they bring anything but fun. The Well-Played Game is a guide for making games into experiences that bring joy and health to you and everyone you play with.�

Finite and Infinite Games by James Carse. A finite game is a game that has fixed rules and boundaries, that is played for the purpose of winning and thereby ending the game.

An infinite game has no fixed rules or boundaries. In an infinite game you play with the boundaries and the purpose is to continue the game.

One cannot plan an infinite game inside a finite game but one can play many finite games inside an infinite game.

Subhash Mishra indicated that playing many finite games inside an infinite game could help us not get attached to the finite games we play (in the knowledge that the actual game we are playing is infinite and that is not in our control).

He then said that playing a game purely for its enjoyment could in fact result in bringing the best from us. For example, he said that when Tulsidas, the great poet was asked towards what end he wrote Ramayana, he is supposed to have answered, �I did not have any end in my mind. I simply enjoyed writing it� � and what a creation it is!

This led us to talk about how the attitude with which we engage with a task significantly affects it.

As an example, Prasad played a clip from the movie �What the Bleep do we Know?� In that clip, a woman shows passengers waiting in railway station a series of pictures of water crystals taken by Dr. Emoto. One picture that looks like a piece of jewel has been blessed by a Buddhist monk. Another beautiful picture of the water crystal has the words �Thank You� pasted on its container. And another picture that looks grotesque has the words, �I hate you, I will kill you� pasted on it.

The narrator says that 90% of human body is made of water. If simple words can do that (referring to the pictures) to water, imagine what our thoughts can do to us? What intentions do we hold and how do we let go of our current beliefs? How do we have an intention but not be attached to a result?

Prasad brought up one question: How can we be non-attached to the result of our actions? He was quick to point out that non-attachment to the result does not mean not caring for the result. It only means not being attached to the credit or reward that comes from the successful completion of the task.

He then talked about six factors from the Bhagavad Gita that can help a person develop a sense of non-attachment to the result:

Jnana: Prasad translated Jnana as perspective instead of traditional meaning knowledge. Wisdom � both to let go and to hold on -- Prasad says doesn�t come from knowledge but from perspective. Wisdom comes from having a larger-than-self perspective (while being in relation to a task or with other people).

Karma: Action � that which ensues directly from jnana or perspective not to be confused with the busy-ness of activities that one does to fill the day and feel important. Many of us perform activities that are unrelated to the perspective that we hold and have a knowing-doing gap. How do we choose actions that are aligned with our own perspective?

Karta: The doer or the role that we play. Do we show up as a victim in the world influenced by all the things that are impacting us or have choice in the matter to choose the perspective? Do we believe that we are actually performing the tasks out of our own control or are we dependent on others and other factors and spiritually speaking '' instruments of the divine?" Clarity of the nature and purpose of the role we take decides whether we �play victim� or have choices and control over what we do.

Buddhi: The discriminating mind that can see the difference between good and bad. When we have the ability to know the right and the wrong and transcend the polarity, our intellect matures into intelligence.

Dhruti: Perseverance or fortitude � ability to stick to a task once the commitment is made even in the face of hardship. Also knowing what to hold onto and what to let go and find appropriate ways to get the job done.

Sukham -- What is the underlying motivation? Why do we do what we do? The answer to the �why� question with respect to any task depends on what we consider as 'sukham.'

Paying attention to these six factors helps a person maintain equanimity throughout and after his engagement with the task.

Two other books referred by Prasad: 7 habits of highly effective people by Steven Covey and Man�s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankel.

The above books point out that while it is true that there are greater forces that affect the outcome of our effort, by focusing on what we do have control over (however small and insignificant it may be), we can create meaning and value.

Practice to try:

Take any task and try to consider all the six factors mentioned above while being engaged with it.
Or try to play a game to lose rather than to win

Posted by Ragu at October 4, 2005 02:57 PM

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